SEATTLE -- Baltimore Orioles manager John Oates prides himself on being a man of extraordinary self-control, but there is a limit to everything.
Tuesday night, he nearly reached it, lecturing his club angrily after another one-sided loss to the streaking Seattle Mariners.
Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. had put on a one-man show at the Kingdome, his grand slam carrying Seattle to an 8-2 victory that pushed the Orioles to the brink of a three-game sweep.
Oates put on a one-man show in the clubhouse afterward, hoping to change the mind set of a team that has lost 11 of its last 14 games.
"I'm not faulting the physical effort that they are giving me out on the field," Oates said. "I don't think anybody wants to lose. But I don't want us getting used to losing. We need to get a winning attitude."
To that end, the Orioles reshuffled the roster on Tuesday, sending Jeff Ballard and Jeff Robinson to Class AAA Rochester and designating relief pitcher Paul Kilgus for assignment. The club called up three rookie pitchers and sent two of them to the mound in relief of shell-shocked starter Roy Smith.
Left-hander Jim Poole gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, but retired the next 10 in order and struck out six in a strong 3 1/3 -inning performance. Right-hander Stacy Jones, who was Gregg Olson's roommate at Auburn University, followed Poole to the mound and pitched two perfect innings -- striking out two -- before Olson came on to give up two runs in the eighth.
"The kids pitched well," said Oates. "That was refreshing."
But Oates was not pleased with the way the rest of the club performed, and he said so in his angry post-game address.
He wouldn't reveal what was said, but he indicated afterward that more roster moves could be imminent if the team continues to pile up losses the way it has the past two weeks.
"We might not be finished [with the roster] yet," he said. "If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn't, you don't have anything to worry about. If that puts pressure on them, that's just the way it is.
"I heard Frank [Robinson] say a thousand times, if you can't play with pressure, you can't play at this level. If guys think I'm putting pressure on them -- tough. The name of the game here is winning. We've got
more material here than what we're doing," he said. "These games that are 8-2, 11-4, 9-1, 12-9, that doesn't get it."
The 5 1/3 innings of one-hit rookie relief were nice, but the game turned on a fantastic defensive play by Griffey in the first and and a fat pitch by Smith in the second.
The Orioles came within inches of staking Smith to a big lead at the outset, only to watch helplessly while one of the best young players in either league put on a one-man show worthy of Willie Mays.
Seattle left-hander Bill Krueger gave up singles to Mike Devereaux and Cal Ripken before loading the bases with a one-out walk to Dwight Evans, but Griffey crashed the center-field fence to take an extra-base hit away from Randy Milligan.
Milligan didn't miss a grand slam by much, but he had to settle for a 405- foot sacrifice fly and the Orioles had to settle for one run out of a possible four.
Smith was not so fortunate. He survived a two-on, no-out jam in the first inning, but served up the grand slam to Griffey in the Mariners' six-run second.
The big early inning -- an Orioles tradition since 1991 -- did not even begin to develop until there were two outs. Smith gave up a double to Scott Bradley and a game-tying single to Omar Vizquel before Greg Briley singled and Harold Reynolds walked to load the bases.
Griffey dropped behind on the count, but fought back to work Smith for a full-count fastball that wound up in the upper reaches of the right field bleachers.
For those who are keeping count, it was the 31st time in 99 games that the Orioles have fallen behind by three runs or more in three innings or less, a statistic of some relevance at this point in a very disappointing season.
Smith lasted one more batter, giving up a long triple to Pete O'Brien before giving way to Poole, who surrendered a run-scoring single to Alvin Davis before settling down to work through the fifth. In one stretch from the third inning to the fifth, he struck out five out of six batters.
Ripken cut the Mariners lead to four with a leadoff homer in the third, his 22nd of the season and first since July 20, but Krueger dodged enough line drives to hold on until the seventh.
Krueger (9-3) has been a very pleasant surprise for the Mariners. He started the season in the bullpen, but entered the starting rotation on May 16 and has an 8-2 record as a starter.